What are boat shoes? Boat shoes are one of those functional wears that was able to transcend itself in the world of fashion. Originally worn by sailors, this type of shoes is now one of the popular casual footwear since its introduction in the fashion industry in the 1980s. Also known as deck shoes or top siders, the shoes were originally designed to provide better traction for sailors while traversing a slippery boat deck. This is a classic example of a functional wear getting into mainstream fashion.
The Birth of Boat Shoes
A keen observation of Paul Sperry led the way to the first production of Boat Shoes in 1935. He noticed how his dog had the ability to walk on ice without slipping. This led him to cut siping into the soles of his shoes that eventually led to the birth of a company called Sperry Top-Siders – a popular deck shoes brand today.
These kinds of shoes are designed from canvass or leather where a siping pattern is cut through the rubber soles. Siping is a process where thin slits are cut through the rubber to provide better traction on wet and slippery surfaces like ice. The leather surface is then applied with oil to allow it to repel water.
Boat shoes for men and women emergence as a fashionable footwear was primarily driven by its design. It is a cross between formal footwear and loafers. It can be classy and yet not too formal but it is not too casual as that of loafers. This gave it a different appeal. It can give the user a nice sporty and sleek style. Originally, these shoes are designed to be worn without socks because it should be able to provide the comfort of a shoe while giving the user the convenience of taking it off easily while walking on the beach or when the user decides to take a swim. However, in some cases, socks can be worn together with deck shoes.
A casual look is a perfect match for Boat Shoes. Jeans and button down shirts can be easily matched with top-siders to give a more casual look that is ideal for the office set-up. If one decides to have a sportier look then matching it with khaki pants and a polo shirt should be able to give the individual a sporty feel.
Shopping for Boat Shoes
Getting a pair of quality Boat Shoes may require a little investment but the shoes, with the proper upkeep, can last with little or no deterioration. In choosing the right pair of top-siders, it should be one that is light weight, flexible and comfortable because, in the end, the shoes should allow you to comfortably move and perform boat tasks easily.
The best Boat Shoes is one that offers plenty of traction since its exposure is mostly on wet and slippery surfaces. Some brands like Sperry boat shoes offer non-slip technology which keeps the shoes safe for use by the individual when walking along slippery and wet boat decks. One should also consider the shoe’s resistance from water. Although most of deck shoes are weather resistant, this does not mean that it will keep you feet dry. This means that water will not damage the shoes’ materials. Users need to make sure to check the specifications before making the purchase.
The convenience of wearing deck shoes is also important. One can choose from purchasing one that the user can just slip on or a top-sider that is laced up. Each has its own merits depending on the preference of the user. The slip on type can give the user the convenience of slipping in or out of the shoes like when one decides to go for quick swim while the laced up shoes can provide more security while traversing the deck.
Another thing to consider is the durability of the Boat Shoes. Materials used in deck shoes may vary from synthetic, fabric, leather, or a combination of these materials. The user’s preference on the material will largely depend on the use of the shoes and the fashion sense of the user. One needs to choose deck shoes that can stand the test of water and continued use. In the end, functionality has a higher bearing than just fashion sense.
The user’s choice on Boat Shoes may vary depending on the style that an individual desires. It should be a blend of style, functionality, and durability. The shoes should be one that the user is comfortable and confident in using.
Different brands of Boat Shoes are available in the market. Sperry, Timberland, Keds, and Rockport are the major brands that offer quality deck shoes. However, the individual would need to shelve out a little more money for these quality brands. There is the option to purchase top-siders from other brands like Crocs that produce hybrid deck shoes.
Boat Shoe Care
Although deck shoes are designed for durability, regular upkeep can lengthen the lifespan of the shoes. Here are some tips to ensure that deck shoes are properly maintained:
Never use detergents in cleaning your top-siders as this may do more damage than good. A soft damp cloth can be used to wipe of the dirt from the shoes.
Rinse the shoes but never soak them in water. It is best that you put newspaper inside the shoes so that moisture inside the shoes is absorbed and it will also help in maintaining the shape of the shoes. Air drying the shoes is most preferred.
The application of leather conditioner and polishing the deck shoes with a paste type polish can preserve the texture and the color of the leather.
Boat Shoes definitely blends functionality and style. The shoes that originally started out as a sailor’s safety footwear can now be matched with the latest casual attire that speaks of sleek and style. Investing in deck shoes can require the user additional cost especially when one is in search for branded and high quality top-siders. And with the proper care from the user, this could mean a worthwhile choice.